Chinese embassy writes to MPs against supporting Tibetan cause

Move seen as rare, undiplomatic interference

December 31, 2021 01:45 pm | Updated 04:36 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A file photo of Tibetan exiles during a protest outside the Chinese embassy in New Delhi.

A file photo of Tibetan exiles during a protest outside the Chinese embassy in New Delhi.

The Embassy of China has written to a group of parliamentarians asking them to “refrain” from supporting the cause of Tibetan independence. The move, which is being interpreted as a rare and undiplomatic interference, came after six MPs from the All-Party Indian Parliamentary Forum for Tibet attended a meeting at a Delhi hotel.

“As is known to all, the so-called ‘Tibetan Government-in-Exile’ is an out-and-out separatist political group and an illegal organisation completely in violation of China’s Constitution and laws. It is not recognised by any country in the world,” wrote Zhou Yongsheng, Political Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in India.

The meeting was attended by Congress MPs Jairam Ramesh and Manish Tewari, BJD’s Sujeet Kumar, BJP’s Maneka Gandhi and K.C. Ramamurthy and Minister of State for Skill Development, Electronics & Technology Rajeev Chandrashekhar.

The Forum on Tibet dates back to 1971 and has had a distinguished list of figures such as Atal Bihari Vajpayee, George Fernandes and Mohammadali Carim Chagla.

An MP unwilling to be named said the participants had taken their political parties on board and they did not attend the meeting unilaterally and added that the Chinese embassy often sent letters to politicians expressing its opinion on issues that were important to Beijing.

Mr. Kumar, of the BJD, said the forum was a cultural outfit that promoted Tibetan heritage and issues relevant to Tibetan refugees.

“I am not surprised by the Chinese reaction, it is pretty much on expected lines. This is not the first letter I have got from them. I have got four to five letters from them so far. Each time I have spoken or written on the Chinese connection to the COVID-19 pandemic or the Galwan incident, they have shot me a missive,” Mr. Kumar added.

The Chinese Embassy, he noted, had no locus standi to directly speak to an elected representative of India. It must direct all communication via the Ministry of External Affairs.

“I believe that cultural genocide has been going on in Tibet and the world has let it down,” Mr. Kumar, who visited the Tibet Autonomous Region in 2009, said.

During the latest meeting too, he spoke about his travels to Lhasa and his sentiments on breaking up of ties between India and Tibet after the Chinese occupation.

The MPs were outraged by the letter from the Chinese embassy.

Mr. Ramesh said he had attended the function for three reasons, which he had outlined in his speech during dinner at the meeting.

“First, my profound fascination for Buddha. Second, my deep respect for the Dalai Lama. Third, my grateful recognition for the role Tibetan sources have played in the rediscovery of India’s Buddhist heritage. I said I was present culturally, philosophically and spiritually,” Mr. Ramesh told The Hindu , adding that he did not propose to respond to the letter.

Mr. Tewari, however, said that he did not receive any letter from the embassy.

“Neither have I received any letter from the Chinese nor will I diminish myself by responding to such imbecile missives,” said Mr .Tewari.

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